President Surangel Whipps Jr. announced on Wednesday that Palau is preparing to open up and planning for a COVID-safe nation.

Almost a year after closing its borders, Palau is ready to receive tourists from Taiwan to revitalize the economy, one step at a time. 

“The date has finally arrived, it’s time to open up,” President Whipps told reporters on Monday.

Whipps said while health officials calculate the chance of Covid-19 reaching Palau was one-in-four million, the nation is ready to launch the trade bubble on April 1

 “It is Important what Dr. Kuartei said, we were in covid-free and now we are planning for covid-safe, “ Whipps added.

The president said Palau, which has zero COVID-cases, is taking a risk but it is also taking precautionary measures to ensure the country remains COVID-free.

 “But we must understand, if we don’t look at other options, there is an increase in the number of illnesses due to people unable to access medical services outside, he said. 

 Whipps is leaving on March 28 to Taiwan and will return on April 1 with at least 110 tourists.

While the flights will start twice-weekly, Whipps said gradually more flights are expected.

He assured the public that Palau is building “all kinds of barriers and shields to protect our people,” he said.

“We understand, yes we’re taking a risk because there’s nothing that’s 100 percent guaranteed.”  

Before boarding the flights from Taipei to Palau. Taiwanese visitor will take PCR tests and are allowed only to board if they tested negative for XOVID-19 

Whipps said there will be limited community interaction from the tourists 

Officials said under the travel bubble, tourists will be staying in designated hotels. Dine-in separate restaurant areas. Establishments that will be handling the visitors are required to undergo training and be certified by Bureau of Tourism on COVID safe practices.

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